Our water resources are stretched today providing us with water for our homes, our crops, factories, businesses, and nature. Unfortunately, today’s problem will only continue as the population of Central Florida grows. As we look for other water sources, wisely using what we have is essential. To that end, the utilities of Polk County and the South and Southwest Water Management Districts are offering education and financial incentives to assist their residents’ water conservation efforts.
Although it varies from home to home, roughly half of household water usage is outdoors. Therefore, sensible yard irrigation is a must. You should only water grass between one half and three quarters of an inch per application, twice a week. Follow your water restrictions and irrigate only on your watering days. Don’t water between the hours of 10 AM and 4 PM to avoid evaporation during the hottest part of the day. During the winter, most plants are not actively growing. Then you can switch to watering once per week, and sometimes even skip a week. Most of your established trees and shrubs won’t need additional water except under drought conditions. Other beds can be switched to drip irrigation to reduce water usage while keeping thirsty plants healthy.
Kitchens can be a major spot in the home to lose water. Because modern dishwashers are so efficient, a full load will use less water than washing by hand. Machines on the market today do not require pre-rinsing your dishes. scrape any remaining food into the garbage instead of rinsing or using the garbage disposal. If you do not have a dishwasher, soak your dishes in one basin of the sink and rinse in the other.
The bathrooms can also be a huge source of water waste. Showers use less water than baths when people are brief but can use just as much or more if you take too long. To counter, change out your shower head to a low-flow model that will save several gallons with each use. Exchanging older toilets installed before the 1994 national standard for new, less wasteful fixtures can save between two and four gallons per flush, adding up over the course of a day.
The utilities of Polk County are offering rebates and incentives on water-saving devices to help their customers conserve without spending a lot of money. For instance, old toilets that use at least 3.5 gallons per flush can be replaced with new 1.28 gallon per flush toilets for a rebate. They are also offering free conservation kits that include low-flow faucet aerators for the kitchen and bathrooms, a low-flow shower head, and toilet leak detection tablets. In addition, those with automatic irrigation systems may qualify for a new rain sensor if theirs is no longer working. Customers with unusually high water bills might be offered a free professional landscape and irrigation evaluation. Or maybe a rebate on a smart irrigation controller, which uses weather data or onsite sensors to decide when and how much to water. To learn what your water utility is offering, visit their website or the Polk Regional Water Cooperative site at savepolkwater.org.